​Int'l forum on rural vitalization held in Beijing

​By Guo Xiaohong
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, May 7, 2019
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President Sun Qixin of China Agricultural University. [Photo by Guo Xiaohong / China.org.cn]

An international forum intended to boost rural vitalization was held by the College of Humanities and Development Studies at China Agricultural University in Beijing on May 6 and 7. Officials, scholars and entrepreneurs from China, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, Italy, Brazil, Belgium and France came together to share insights on rural development. 

China's rural economy has developed remarkably since the country launched its reform and opening-up policy in 1978, said Sun Qixin, president of China Agricultural University, at the forum. Yet the large income gap between urban and rural residents, currently 2.8 times or more, is a very serious problem in China's economic development. Education, healthcare, sanitation and housing in rural areas still need improvement, Sun said. 

Sun said he hoped China could learn from other countries, find inspiration and solutions to accomplish rural vitalization. 

Guilherme Cassel, the former Minister of Agrarian Development of Brazil. [Photo by Guo Xiaohong / China.org.cn]

Guilherme Cassel, the former Minister of Agrarian Development of Brazil, shared how Brazil achieved success with family farms, while other participants also presented best practices and experience in their respective fields. 

"The wide array of experiences at different places allows us to have comparative analysis of rural development policies," said forum speaker Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, professor of rural sociology at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and adjunct professor at China Agricultural University. 

A lecturer and researcher in China for 12 years, van der Ploeg launched a rural sociology course, the first in China, at China Agricultural University. 

Van der Ploeg suggested that each country consider its own features and tailor modern agriculture to fit, as there are various ways of being modern, reinforcing that the forum offers a useful platform to know others' realties and successes. 

Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, professor with Wageningen University, the Netherlands. [Photo by Guo Xiaohong / China.org.cn]

"What Dutch farmer and peasants do is to work hard and develop their own type of farming that is in line with their own fields and their interests," van der Ploeg said. "Stubbornly, they are following the model they design by themselves. I wish Chinese farmers are as stubborn as Dutch farmers and do their own Chinese way." 

Van der Ploeg also explained that in the Netherlands, small farms coexist alongside bigger ones. These small farms are more resilient and more resistant to crisis as they find new ways to be multi-functional, he said. The Netherlands is the world's second largest exporter of agricultural products, after the United States. 

Compared with the West, China has a major advantage in that so many people still live in rural areas, van der Ploeg pointed out, yet the countryside must become more attractive to lure people back to agriculture. 

One day ahead of the forum, China announced new guidelines on an integrated urban-rural development initiative aimed at balancing rural and urban development, accelerating rural revitalization and fast-tracking the modernization of agriculture. 

Under the guidelines, the systems and mechanisms for promoting integrated urban-rural development should begin to take shape by 2022. By the middle of the century, China aims to meet the goal of comprehensive integration of urban-rural areas and rural revitalization, leading to shared prosperity for everyone.

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